Federal Politics

Published — November 4, 2015 Updated — December 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm ET

Twitter <3 enhanced political #disclosure

PAC of social media company to quickly reveal campaign contributions

Introduction

Federal law lets political action committees wait weeks, even months, to reveal which candidates benefit from their cash.

But Twitter’s nascent PAC, which is poised to make its first-ever federal campaign contributions, plans to disclose such donations within 48 hours — tweet-like speed, relatively speaking, company officials tell the Center for Public Integrity.

“Timely disclosure is something we could do. We figured, ‘Why not?'” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s head of global public policy.

Crowell added that Twitter, Inc. #PAC intends to donate to federal candidates this election cycle. While not yet naming names, he said the PAC would aim to support candidates who, for example, support patent law changes, government surveillance reforms and strong digital privacy policies.

Is Twitter attempting to make a statement or get other PACs to follow its example?

“We just think it’s the right thing to do for Twitter,” Crowell said.

Twitter’s PAC has raised about $95,000 — and spent less than $800 — since its creation in August 2013 and the end of June, according to Federal Election Commission records. The money came from employee contributions. Its next campaign finance filing is not required to be submitted until January.

In an update to its corporate political policies, Twitter will also publicly disclose its trade association memberships and membership costs, as well as any financial associations it has with nonprofit “social welfare” organizations, which aren’t required to reveal their donors.

Some social welfare groups have spent significant amounts of money advocating for and against political candidates since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which enabled such direct political spending.

Will Twitter’s voluntary actions start a disclosure trend? “Probably not,” said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which supports limited campaign finance regulations.

“It’s a free country. People can say what they want,” Keating added.

Twitter’s new policies come at a time when the company is expanding its presence in Washington, D.C., where most members of Congress and practically every government agency has a Twitter account.

It’s also a period of tumult for the nine-year-old, San Francisco-based firm. Twitter has watched its stock price plunge, and last month, it installed its co-founder Jack Dorsey as its new chief executive officer.

Twitter first began lobbying the federal government in 2013, spending $90,000 on lobbying efforts that year.

In 2014, its lobbying spending soared to $310,000, and through the first nine months of 2015, the company has already spent $330,000, according to congressional records. More than half of its total this year came during the third quarter alone, as the company pressed lawmakers and the White House on issues including commercial data security, email privacy and National Security Agency surveillance.

Crowell said Twitter increasingly cares about such issues because they “go to the heart of what makes Twitter special.”

Today, Twitter employs two in-house federal lobbyists and has contracted with three outside lobbying firms this year, according to records maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. Both Twitter’s lobbying team and overall expenditures, while growing, remain significantly smaller than those of other prominent tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

Twitter is also teaming with CBS to co-host a Democratic presidential candidate debate on Nov. 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Twitter has previously hosted a variety of other political and government-related events, including a Twitter Town Hall at the White House in 2011.

Earlier this year, Twitter angered some political transparency advocates by effectively killing Politwoops, a three-year-old project by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation that archived politicians’ deleted tweets.

In a statement at the time, Twitter explained that third-party organizations preserving deleted tweets were violating the company’s developer agreement.

“Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us, whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress,” Twitter wrote.

This story was co-published with Al Jazeera America.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT